Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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NRB questions DNR’s influence on deer groups

Madison — County deer advisory councils have been meeting throughout the state, and one Natural Resources Board member wants to be sure the recommendations coming from the committees are really from the public.

At the Oct. 29 NRB meeting, Greg Kazmierski, board member from Pewaukee, said he has talked with people involved with the county deer advisory councils and it’s caused him to wonder to what degree the DNR has made the recommendations for the councils.

Bob Nack, DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management big-game section chief, said the DNR did not provide any guidance. The DNR staff is there as liaisons to answer questions, he said.

“Our staff is there to share their professional opinions, but not to direct any type of vote,” Nack said.
Kazmierski said that if the DNR is perceived as directing the meetings, then the entire process will lose credibility. If agency personnel just provide background, then he believes the process will work fine.

He also asked if committees in urban areas are clear that they’re only making recommendations for areas that are open to hunting. Deer in most urban areas cannot be hunted.

Nack said that point comes up in discussions and is one of the challenges of deer management.

NRB member Gary Zimmer, of Laona, said he sat in on the meeting in his area, and he was pleased. He thought the local biologist was as impartial as possible, while also providing data for input.

“In this case, it was going well,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer noted that he was told that some citizens had not heard about the CDAC meetings, though Zimmer has seen information in local papers about the meetings.

Nack admitted that DNR staff is used to running meetings, so this is a new experience. The DNR role is to sit back and allow councils to run the meetings, while DNR personnel provide factual information when asked.

Advisory council update

Nack gave the board his monthly update on the implementation of the Deer Management Assistance Program and county deer advisory councils.

“There is still work to be done filling the councils. Our approach hasn’t changed; we are working with county chairs and our staff to recruit talented people,” Nack said.

As of late October, 71 counties had councils, of which 72 percent had a representative of the forestry community, 90 percent had an agricultural representative, 82 percent had a representative of a local sporting club, 52 percent had a tourism rep, 51 percent had transportation involvement, and 38 percent had an urban representative.

For those councils that are near large metropolitan centers, 82 percent had a representative for urban interests. And for councils that had a DMAP cooperator, 47 percent of the councils had DMAP represented.

Nack said the October meetings were held, which is where the councils are coming up with preliminary deer population objectives for their counties, and then it goes to open public review during November.

The public comment period runs Nov. 3 to Dec. 5.

Nack said the recommendations should allow people to easily follow the thought process of the councils leading to their recommendations. The public can find information on the councils online.

The councils will collect public comments and make their final recommendations in December.

When asked for his feeling on how it was going, Nack said DNR staff and councils are learning and are fitting in. One challenge is that there is a lot of information, and everyone should be on the same page. Advisory council members received an 80-page book on deer information for their county.

“I’m optimistic,” Nack said.

NRB member Terry Hilgenberg, of Shawano, said he had one member of the public tell him this was going much better than the previous way deer objectives were set when the biologist said what would be done.

Nack said interest remains high in DMAP. The program sends bi-weekly communications to cooperators and shares information that is available.

It is optional, but the DNR is asking cooperators to collect information on harvested deer such as weights, jaw bones for aging, and lactation status, and people are doing it.

“It is going very well,” he said.

He said he hears that people appreciate the interaction with DNR employees who come out to their land. Information is shared, and the DNR is learning what landowners are seeing on their land.

Sawyer Briel, DNR public affairs manager, reviewed all of the information the DNR is putting out on the deer hunt.

Local news releases are provided to deer advisory council members, and the DNR is emphasizing the fun and excitement of deer hunting.

The DNR is also holding live “chats,” and people can listen to the chats online if they can’t listen as they are held.

The “Gov Delivery” system goes out to people via internet who sign up indicating they have an interest in deer hunting. They can sign up for this service on the DNR website.

The DNR also has translated regulation brochures in Hmong and Hispanic languages.

“We’re trying to keep the message simple and reach new demographic groups,” Briel said.

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